By Rod Lagusad, Raymond Africa and Christian Oineza
TRANSPORT groups yesterday declared the nationwide transport strike as a success, a claim that was refuted by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the PNP.
The Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO), the group that led the strike, said around 90 percent of its members participated in the strike that paralyzed transport in many areas, among them Quezon City, Pasay, Alabang, Taguig, Pateros, Pasig, Marikina, San Mateo, Antipolo, and Binangonan.
ACTO president Efren de Luna said the suspension of classes in many areas was also a triumph for them.
He also ruled out a meeting with the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), saying it is up to President Duterte to assign somebody who will sit down with them for a “true” dialog on their bid to stop the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) modernization program. The program aims to phase out jeepneys 15 years and older, to be replaced by vehicles that run on renewable energy and are Euro 4 compliant.
MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago, however, said the transport strike was not successful because “as early as 8:30 a.m., the situation had normalized in areas where there were stranded passengers.”
Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) secretary general Steve Ranjo said the strike was a success because many drivers participated, undaunted by the warning issued by the LTFRB that their franchise will be canceled.
Stop and Go Coalition president Jun Magno said the LTFRB warning is of no use because their franchises are set to be canceled July next year with the implementation of the PUV modernization program.
LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra, meanwhile, said they have already canceled the franchise of 35 PUV operators. He added the agency will recommend the suspension or the cancellation of the license of the drivers who participated in the protest.
In some areas, the strike lasted for 12 hours. Generally, it was peaceful, with the PNP saying it has not received any report of untoward incidents.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the transport strike “fizzled out in wide areas as mass transportation systems in major jeepney and bus routes across the country remained operational.”
Based on reports reaching the PNP National Operations Center in Camp Crame, Banac said some 420 members of Piston and ACTO converged in three locations on Commonwealth Ave., Novaliches Proper, and Diliman.
He said similar actions were held by at least 170 protesters at the Bonifacio Monument CVircle in Valoocan City, and along C4 road in Navotas.
Elsewhere across the country, he said 55 members of the transport organizations gathered in Dagupan City and Santiago City in the northern Luzon while some 200 protesters were spotted in Baguio City, 324 were recorded in Iloilo City, Bacolod, and La Castellana in Negros Occidental; and 100 Piston members were seen in Caretta, Cebu.
In a radio interview, Pialago said the volume of the passengers stranded was fewer compared to their expected number.
Free rides were also provided by the MMDA to transport passengers from Philcoa to Arayat Cubao, Philcoa to SM North Edsa; Philcoa to Kalayaan Avenue and Philcoa to Manila.
Various local government units, like Marina, deployed vehicles that provided free riders to commuters.